Apple wins patent victory, gets HTC devices banned in U.S.

Dec 20, 2011
Tech

In the ongoing patent wars between Apple and just about everybody, the iPhone maker has struck another blow against its Android-manufacturing competitors by winning an injunction against device maker HTC. A ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission states that some of Taiwanese device maker HTC’s devices infringe on Apple’s patents, and those devices have […]

In the ongoing patent wars between Apple and just about everybody, the iPhone maker has struck another blow against its Android-manufacturing competitors by winning an injunction against device maker HTC.

A ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission states that some of Taiwanese device maker HTC’s devices infringe on Apple’s patents, and those devices have been banned from sale in the U.S. The ITC’s job is to protect U.S. patent holders against foreign infringers, and it has the power to keep foreign products from being imported to the U.S. and sold when those products could hurt U.S. businesses.

As AllThingsD reports, the ban on HTC products won’t go into effect until April, giving carriers time to phase out infringing devices and HTC time to demonstrate how it has fixed the issues that surround the ITC ruling. The patent infringement finding centers around two claims from Apple, both related to smartphones.

HTC is still allowed some leeway under the ruling, in addition to the April delay. It can import refurbished devices for the time being in order to fill repair requests from existing customers, allowing it to meet obligations that have already been set in motion. The ruling is also pretty limited, affecting only certain devices, along with the time delay.

“While disappointed that a finding of violation was still found on two claims of the ’647 patent, we are well prepared for this decision, and our designers have created alternate solutions for the ’647 patent,” HTC said, according to AllThingsD. That suggests that the given the time delay on the ban, the Taiwanese company shouldn’t suffer much in the way of adverse long-term effects, given that it can fix the infringing issues with its devices.

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Apple has been campaigning pretty hard against its Android-backing competitors at home and abroad, claiming lots of devices from several manufacturers have infringed on its patents. Among those are Samsung smartphones and tablets, which Apple has successfully gotten banned in similar cases in Germany, Australia and The Netherlands during the last year.

The HTC ruling probably won’t hurt Apple’s competitor too badly, but it does suggest that Apple’s patent claims for its smartphones aren’t just hot air. There have been some serious legal implications for the accusations Apple has brought, and governments are listening. How that might change the smartphone landscape in 2012, however, is anybody’s guess at this point.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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